Should We Teach Risk Management in American Public School Systems?
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
There is a lot of discussion within the emergency management field these days about including basic emergency management training in public schools. But with many school systems’ budgets shrinking across the United States, it can be difficult to add new programs.
Although it can be expensive to add an entirely new curriculum, it might be worthwhile for school boards to include concepts of risk management within their already existing curricula.
When risk management is taught correctly, it includes critical thinking concepts that challenge students. This intellectual challenge helps students to develop new perspectives on a variety of academic subjects.
Risk management is also at the heart of emergency management. It can help students to prepare for any disaster that might affect their school.
What Precisely Is Risk Management?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) guide defines risk management as the “likelihood that a threat will harm an asset with some severity or consequences – and deciding and implementing actions to reduce it.”
Risk management is a robust area of scholarship that is applicable to one’s career, home and numerous fields of study. Risk management essentially consists of lessons in critical thinking, which many students need to develop.
There are movements within in the educational community advocating for teaching critical thinking in schools. Risk management could be the “middle ground” in public schools between the teaching of critical thinking and an emergency management curriculum.
Teaching Fundamental Emergency Management to the Public Is Often Difficult
During emergency management discussions, scholars and practitioners often call for educating the general public on emergency management principles. There are numerous published guides to help civilians plan for emergencies, including a guide published by FEMA.
But educating students about emergency management teaches them more than just principles. Ultimately, emergency managers want citizens to understand how to effectively plan for a disaster. Traditionally, this is a difficult concept for citizens not well-versed or interested in emergency management to understand.
Perhaps public schools ought to focus on risk management, a fundamental component of emergency management . Many Americans argue that the U.S. educational system needs more in-depth courses in a variety of areas, such as math and science, to give students a well-rounded education.
Including instruction in risk management in public schools might help students to understand the fundamental ideas of emergency management. It would also have the benefit of helping students to develop the critical thinking skills that will help them later in life.